Many 'gods' tempt us in today's world

Lydia Cristini

WORD MADE FLESH

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time – August 23, 2015
Joshua 24.1-2,15-18 | Psalm 34 | Ephesians 4.32-5.2, 21-32 | John 6.53, 60-69
August 17, 2015

"Decide today whom you will serve."

Joshua sure doesn't mince words.

So, whom do I serve? In one of my classes at St. Joe's College, I remember learning a useful Martin Luther quotation: "That to which your heart clings is your god." It is just another way of saying what Jesus said when he told us we cannot serve both God and money.

We can make anything our god. Whether it is money, or power, or fame, or popularity, or sports, or music, or physical appearance, or a good cause, or entertainment, or another person, or even ourselves, these are all things (or people) which can take the place of God in our hearts and in our lives.

Therefore we will also serve the Lord, for he is our God. - Joshua 24.18

'Therefore we will also serve the Lord, for he is our God.'

Joshua 24.18

Of course, these are not bad in and of themselves. Even money, "the root of all evil," has so much potential - we can do so much good with it.

DAMAGED RELATIONSHIP

It's just that, when we seek these things above all else, it not only damages our relationship with God, it also doesn't make sense.

In the best case scenario, we are making a decision to settle for the "good," when the best is right in front of us. Or, more often, we are making a decision to prefer the counterfeit to the real thing.

C.S. Lewis talks about this in the ninth letter of his novel, The Screwtape Letters, where a senior demon, Screwtape, informs his nephew, a junior demon, that their master (Satan) cannot create, he can only pervert the good things that the Enemy (God) has created.

The catch for us humans is that this perversion, or counterfeit, is usually more accessible, easier and requires less self-control. Strangely, most humans seem to want to do the easier, more pleasurable thing right now rather than to wait for, or work toward, the more lasting greatness for which God created us.

However, the counterfeit doesn't fully satisfy us, and therefore we are trapped in the formula Screwtape recommends to his nephew - "an ever-increasing craving for an ever-diminishing pleasure."

God doesn't just want the good for us; God wants the best for us. He proved it to the Israelites by leading them out of slavery, giving them food and water in the desert, and continuing to remain faithful to them, despite their unfaithfulness.

God keeps proving this in our personal lives through the many mercies, graces and blessings he lavishes on us.

What makes these difficult to see, however, are the countless demands on our attention, maybe more so than at any other time in history.

In the face of all these counterfeits and distractions, I need to remember St. Peter's words to Christ: "To whom shall I go? You have the words of eternal life." That way, with God's help every day, I hope I can answer Joshua's question in Joshua's own words: "As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."